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RSF Bulletin

New Book: Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison

In the era of mass incarceration, over 600,000 people are released from federal or state prison each year, with many returning to chaotic living environments rife with violence. In these circumstances, how do former prisoners navigate reentering society? In Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, sociologist Bruce Western (Harvard and Columbia Universities) examines the tumultuous first year after release from prison. Drawing from in-depth interviews with over one hundred individuals, Western describes the lives of the formerly incarcerated and demonstrates how poverty, racial inequality, and failures of social support trap many in a cycle of vulnerability despite their efforts to rejoin society.

Western finds that in the first year after prison, most respondents could not afford their own housing and relied on family support and government programs, with half living in deep poverty. Many were unemployed and struggled with chronic pain, mental illnesses, or addiction—the most important predictor of recidivism. In contrast to the stereotype of tough criminals preying upon helpless citizens, Western shows that many former prisoners were themselves subject to lifetimes of violence and abuse and encountered more violence after leaving prison, blurring the line between victims and perpetrators. He argues that boosting the social integration of ex-offenders through policies such as guaranteed housing, drug treatment, and transitional employment is key to both ameliorating deep disadvantage and strengthening public safety.

Ta-Nehisi Coates calls Homeward "a thorough and deeply illuminating study...on the effort to reintegrate ex-offenders into our society." And The Atlantic calls it “a gripping study of the totality of the lives of people reentering society.Homeward illuminates how reforming the reentry process and rethinking the foundations of justice policy are crucial to reducing the harms of mass incarceration.

Read more or purchase a copy of the book.


RSF Research Spotlight: The Social, Economic, and Political Effects of the Affordable Care Act

In 2014, the foundation launched a special initiative on the social, economic, and political effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To date, 18 projects have been funded, including studies of the effects of the ACA’s Medicaid expansions on poverty and political participation, on the effects of the ACA on labor market outcomes, and on changes in public attitudes toward the law. A summary of findings from the first four funding rounds is available on RSF’s website.

View findings from the RSF/RWJ special initiative on the ACA.


Funding Opportunities: Behavioral Economics; Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; and Special Initiatives

RSF is accepting letters of inquiry until May 24, 2018, at 2 pm ET/11 am PT in the Behavioral Economics and Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration programs, as well as the special initiatives on Immigration and Immigrant Integration, Integrating Biology and Social Science Knowledge, and Computational Social Science.

View all funding deadlines and application guidelines.


RSF Accepting Visiting Scholar Applications for 2019–2020 Academic Year

RSF invites visiting scholar applications for the 2019–2020 academic year. The visiting scholar program, established over thirty years ago, is a unique opportunity for social scientists to pursue research projects that investigate essential questions on social, economic, and political life in the U. S. while in residence at RSF. The program fosters the exchange of ideas in a vibrant interdisciplinary environment and promotes collaborations between researchers. Applications are reviewed by outside experts; final selections are made by RSF trustees. Applications for the 2019-2020 academic year will be accepted until June 28, 2018.

View program details, including eligibility requirements and application guidelines.


Request for RSF Journal Articles: The Criminal Justice System as a Labor Market Institution

RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is accepting abstracts for papers for an upcoming issue on the criminal justice system as a labor market institution, edited by Sandra Susan Smith and Jonathan Simon (University of California, Berkeley). RSF invites proposals that advance new and innovative research on the relationship between criminal justice contact and inequalities in labor market experiences and outcomes. The deadline for submissions is May 22, 2018.

View the call for papers and guidelines for submissions.


RSF Trustees and Authors Elected to American Philosophical Society

RSF trustees Karen Cook (Stanford University) and Shelley Taylor (UCLA) and RSF author Margaret Levi (Stanford University) were elected to the American Philosophical Society (APS) at the members’ spring 2018 meeting. The APS is an elected body of distinguished scholars from all academic disciplines.

Read the announcement.


RSF Scholars and Authors Named 2018 Carnegie Fellows

RSF visiting scholar Yarimar Bonilla (Rutgers University), former visiting journalist Eyal Press, and RSF author Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University) have been selected as 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellows. They are part of a class of 31 scholars, journalists, and authors.

Read the announcement.


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